After five matches without victory, West Brom took an important 1:0 victory against Newcastle United at home last Monday evening. It wasn’t very impressive game, with both teams being more oriented to their defensive tasks, but the hosts were without any doubt, quite better side on the field and deservedly took all three points with a goal from Fletcher in 78th minute.
With this victory behind their backs, they are once again safe from the relegation battle, being currently at thirteenth position, six points above relegating placed Newcastle. In front of own fans, they tend to play a bit more offensive which worked well for them in recent weeks, with the exception of a 1:2 defeat against Bournemouth. Otherwise, they did well to win over Newcastle, Arsenal and drew against Tottenham. Home side continues to miss their goalkeeper Ben Foster who is injured from the start of the season. Jonas Olsson (defender, 13/1) and Victor Anichebe (forward, 2/0) will probably miss this game after hamstring injuries against Newcastle. Forward Salomon Rondon (16/3) and offensive midfielder James McClean (17/1) will both serve their second game suspensions. They should be playing in 4-1-4-1 formation with Lambert as alone striker.
Stoke City, on the other side, comes from a very entertaining game away to Everton in which they surprisingly managed to take all three points in a 4:3 victory. Overall, it was probably one of the best offensive performances of Stoke’s players in this season, while the team did have some defensive gaps, but still the victory was completely deserved this time.
Shaqiri had a great first halftime with two goals, but the game became much more interesting in the second when the players of Everton managed to get a 3:2 lead within seven minutes, while the guests sealed their victory with two late goals in last ten minutes – via Joselu in 80th and Arnautovic from the penalty spot in first minute of additional time. Visitors will be playing in their typical 4-2-3-1 formation with Bojan upfront. They continue to miss goalkeeper Shay Given (no performance this season anyway), forwards Peter Crouch (3/0) and Peter Odemwingie (2/0), as well as midfielder Stephen Ireland (6/0) and central defender Marc Muniesa (5/0), all being more of a long term absentees. Coach Mark Hughes anyway surely won’t change much after two back to back victories with the same team.
West Brom have seen under 2.5 goals in 6 of their last 7 matches against Stoke.
Odds are too good to miss in my oppinnion. Stoke comes from two consecutive victories and there is no reason for them to change their tactics – and I expect them to play a bit more freely and attack. That should open up the game, while West Brom anyway remains a bit more offensive in front of own fans.
picks: Over 2 goals